Email marketing is a key channel in every content marketer’s arsenal. However, if not used properly, it can backfire. The design of your emails is a key element of a successful newsletter.

Different elements impact about the success of an email marketing asset:

  • What your content offers in relation to the context of the recipient (not being too salesy when someone isn’t ready to make a purchase decision, always providing value to the people you’re emailing, etc.) Personalization and segmentation, by the way, are a big help in this regard.
  • The design of the email content (this article will be focusing about this)
  • The clarity of your call to action, the request you are making (or not) to your recipients (in other words, the next action you would like your recipients to take).
  • The subject line (has a big influence on open rates).
  • The sender’s name (often forgotten, but also has an impact on open rates).
  • The preview text (that 5 to 10 word excerpt that appears in email clients like Gmail).

Of these, email design remains one of the key elements that can contribute to the success or failure of an email marketing campaign and several key trends have become essential considerations to include in your brief to your designers and strategists.

We’ll focus on two of them, taken from a recent infographic from the Content Marketing Institute that delves into 6 major trends on the topic (we’ve embedded it at the bottom of this page).


Keeping things simple

Some of you already know this, but we’ve been big proponents of this approach for nearly 10 years with our own newsletter.

One of the reasons for this trend is because of the newsletters we’ve seen too much of in recent years, where a brand tries to say and do everything in one email. Links, articles, products, promotions, you know what emails we are talking about. Think about those automatically generated emails that offer you 60 products similar to what you just saw on their website…

A simple email is a great way to respect your recipients’ time. Sending an email with 15 different links to 15 different places on your website quickly becomes a cognitive challenge for your audience. So, whenever you can, why not keep it simple, sending content that is as targeted as possible, respecting that person’s context (segmentation and personalization are important to achieve this).

An email like this will demonstrate two things:

  1. You respect the time you’re asking of your recipients, demonstrating your sensitivity as a brand to the fact that they don’t have 15 minutes of their day to devote to your email.
  2. You will demonstrate an effort to make the email as relevant as possible to the target audience you are contacting.

In the Dims brand example below, the email focuses on one product (a stool) and one thing (customer reviews):



This second trend has really taken off in recent years. While the consideration of having simple, succinct and effective emails has been important for a very long time, this one related to micro-interactions is more recent and is the result of new technical capabilities of many of the most popular email clients.

There are now ways to incorporate micro-interactions into your emails, allowing your audience to have a more engaged experience with your content (hovering over your buttons, small content reveals, etc.).

This article is not intended to be technical in any way shape or form, but we invite email marketing teams to dig deeper into the micro-interaction capabilities you can now incorporate into your design. These types of visuals and interactions have been shown to generate more engagement with emails, generating more positive results for your brand and content program.

In the example below from Google, recipients are asked to choose a color directly in the email:


4 other email marketing trends

We (very) briefly touched on two important trends above, but we also wanted to share a great infographic by the Content Marketing Institute team that also explains 4 additional trends we’re seeing these days in email marketing campaign design:

  1. The consideration of dark mode.
  2. The use of illustrations.
  3. Soft gradients.
  4. The animation of visual elements.

And as you will be reading through this infographic, ask yourself: how many of these are we already considering in our email initiatives? If you would like to dive deeper into each, do not hesitate to reach out to our omnichannel content team, they can help get your email program on the right track!

(source: Content Marketing Institute)